We are thrilled to see the resurgence of interest in Green Building practices. Many of the “new” energy saving construction techniques being promoted today are things we’ve been doing since the early 90’s, when we built the model home for Northeast Utilities’ Energy Crafted Home project. Proper air sealing and insulation, good windows, and efficient heating and cooling systems can go a long way toward saving you a lot of money on your energy bills and making your home or business more comfortable.
It is critical that your builder have a good understanding of the building science behind green building practices. He or she must be able to look at your house as a system, instead of as a series of unrelated components. You don’t want to trade in one problem – a cold, leaky house – for another one – excessive humidity and no fresh air. And an attic full of insulation won’t make a difference if it’s the wrong kind, or improperly installed.
We’ve been successfully incorporating energy saving measures into our building projects since our company began in the 70’s. We also make a point of continually educating ourselves about advances in the field through workshops, trade show seminars and classes. Whenever possible we hire an independent company to do ‘before and after’ Blower Door tests on our projects, to improve our own techniques and to demonstrate to our clients and our subs the value of proper air sealing and insulation.
We’ve been utilizing energy efficient building practices long enough to have years of practical experience to see what works, and to be able to evaluate new ideas based on that experience. We’ve also been doing it long enough to be cautious about applying every new idea. Just because it works in theory, or in the laboratory, doesn’t mean it will perform as advertised in real world conditions.
“Zero Energy” homes and LEED certified homes are great concepts with significant benefits, but they’re not for everybody. Many Zero Energy homes take a certain amount of interactive commitment from the occupants; and the materials and paperwork requirements to achieve LEED certification add to the cost without necessarily adding to the efficiency. However both of these trends are important in the process of changing the mindset of builders and clients toward more environmentally sensitive practices.
Most of the people building or remodeling today will not build Zero Energy or LEED certified projects. We believe that if we do what we can to improve energy efficiency on every project that we do, the overall result will be huge. Even a 10 or 20% improvement in the performance of your house or business can save a significant amount of energy and keep money in your pocket. And there is no good reason that any new construction shouldn’t exceed the Energy Star standards.